Our Paleolithic ancestors had to hunt and gather for their food – it wasn’t always within reach. In modern times, we are surrounded by food and in some ways it has become a kind of entertainment. We have separated ourselves from Nature and from our most basic physiological needs. Is it possible that our hunger is for something other than food, for nourishment of our inner selves?
Food can be a sedative – a drug that mutes our inner responses. Or it can be a gateway to awareness.
We have to find our way back to our own inner compass, that helps us instinctively know when we are hungry, know when we are satiated. Rediscovering our instinctive responses can bring us home to ourselves in a way that will serve us in every part of our lives. It will help us to stand up for ourselves, rather than taking abuse. It will help us know when to take a walk and when to sleep and when to get up – without caffeine or medications or even alarm clocks. It will allow us to face our fears and see the way they have limited us.
There is a greater gain to be had from tuning in again to our most basic responses. We reclaim ourselves. In the beginning, becoming aware of emotional eating will take you beyond your comfort zone – and that is its first gift.
The first step is awareness. Intuitive eating, mindful eating are different names for the processes that reveal to us what we need to know about our own eating habits.
Waking up to our body, living an embodied life is hugely rewarding. Our body is more than our physical self – it is the embodiment of all our potential, the expression of who we are.
Trusting our intuition, is one way to let our body express itself.
We are all born with the inner awareness to eat – and stop- in a way that works for our body. Our bodies cue us to stop as well as to eat. This had been lost in the hype about celebrity, the airbrushed images of thin adolescent bodies on the web and television, the food commercials on our televisions. It has been muted by too much sugar, msg, and other addictives that create cravings that have nothing to do with hunger.
Our inner intuitive awareness longs to be rediscovered – and it can be uncovered again by listening to our hunger. But also to our stress, our yearnings, our reactions to emotions, to crises.
Intuition offers a direct line to our energy and inner wisdom. We remain deaf to our intuitive understandings at our own peril. Many of us live from the neck up. We think our minds will show us the way. But our minds are notoriously undependable and often lead us astray, drowning out our more dependable inner voice.
Being quiet helps us to know what is really important and how to act on it. The message may appear as an idea, a hunch, a feeling of energy when we think of a person who can support us or our next step. As we learn to trust this, the lure of junk food means less and less and becomes a barrier to being all we can be.
And food is a key to unlocking those doors within ourselves. Our intuition finds it hard to respond to a bloated overfed being – there just isn’t room for it to surface.
Strategies to Improve Your Body Listening
Learn about intuitive eating, also called mindful eating. This will take you beyond your comfort zone – to a new expansive realization of your own possibilities. Habit change isn’t easy, but it is rewarding.
When you eat:
- Focus on the foods your body loves.
- Keep track of those foods that make you feel energized.
- Eat mindfully so you can tell when you are really hungry and when you are full.
- Distinguish between hunger and emotions like anxiety, worry and anger.
- Eat enough to sustain you. Don’t deprive yourself and become really hungry.
- Assess the advice of friends and relatives. Choose the people you listen to. Tune out those who don’t support you.
When you are not eating:
- Recognize that urges and craving go away without being satisfied, often in five minutes especially if you are absorbed in another activity.
- Find ways to work with emotional issues without eating.
- Create periods of the day when food isn’t a factor, when you are absorbed in other things.
- Substitute other activities for eating.
- Call a friend.
- Find a distraction
- Have a mantra
- Join a gym
- Get support from a buddy, from a book, from a website, from blogs.
- Clear all food off counters and put it away .
- Toss the junk food that calls to you from your shelves and your refrigerator.
- Polish your nails, water your plants, feed the birds.
- Suggest to your best friend that instead of meeting for coffee and donuts, you go for a walk. Try a break with just herbal tea, instead of a snack, too.
- Tune in to your pets and your plants. They support being in touch with ourselves.
- Turn off your car radio and TV. Silence lets your inner voice speak.
- Watch your energy throughout the day. Know when your energy dips and have healthy snacks like fruits, crudités, a few nuts to see you through.
- When you do eat sweets, watch to see if your energy peaks, then drops, causing you to want to reach for more sweets. You can take yourself out of this cycle.
- Find an exercise or workout you love, a buddy you enjoy and work out daily.
Trusting your intuition comes through a process of listening, clearing emotional toxins and beliefs that prevent us from hearing our inner voice. You can become an expert on yourself!